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Title Diary of M. P. O'Shea from the Clipper Ship 'Eastern City', Liverpool to Melbourne
Author O'Shea, M P
Date 5 May-7 Sep 1857
Document Type Personal Account
Reference HT 15834
Library / Archive Museum Victoria
Collection Name Diaries / Journals / Letters
Description Diary kept by male Irish Catholic immigrant M. P. O'Shea, recording his voyage from Castlecomer, Ireland to Melbourne via Dublin and Liverpool, on the Black Ball Line clipper ship 'Eastern City'. He departed Castlecomer in County Kilkenny, south west of Dublin on 5 May 1857. A list of personal items under the heading 'Dublin May 6/8th' suggests he stopped in Dublin and then departed for Liverpool, arriving on 8 May 1857. He departed for Melbourne on the 'Eastern City' on 9 May 1857 and arrived at Sandridge Pier on 10 August 1857. The diary also records his first couple of weeks in Melbourne, and lists his fellow passengers as: Anne O'Shea (sister], James Ladden and Mrs Ladden. The diary tells the story of a voyage of adversity, describing illness, drunken passengers, and scarcity of provisions, as well as early struggles in the new colony. It focuses on shipboard conditions, including poor and insufficient food, drunken assaults on female passengers, seasickness and subsequent summary justice, as well as attempts by O'Shea to gain compensation after the voyage. O'Shea lodged at Butler's Castle Inn in Collingwood, unwell and desperately seeking work, aided by a local priest, Father Hoyne. He describes his court case against the ship captain for insufficient shipboard provisions but that he only received one pound in compensation. The diary concludes with O'Shea consenting to his sister's marriage and expressing his relief at having secured employment in Geelong with the priest's assistance.
Biographical Note / History The 'Eastern City' was a clipper style sailing ship of 1,368 tons register, built at Boston, USA and operated by James Bairnes & Co.'s Black Ball Line of Liverpool on the Australian immigrant route. On this voyage it was captained by D. H. Johnstone, who O'Shea records as having got married the day before the ship left Liverpool. In August the following year, the 'Eastern City' met the unfortuante and unsual fate of being destroyed by fire at sea in the South Atlantic to the west of the Cape of Good Hope. Through the heroic efforts of the captain, crew and passengers all but one person were rescued and Captain Johnstone was later awarded a gold medal by the Shipwreck and Humane Society of Liverpool in recognition of his actions and calmness.
Theme(s) Departures: Port Conditions and Organisation; Journey Conditions; Arrivals: Ports and Early Experiences
Country (from) Great Britain; Ireland
Country (to) Australia
Places Castlecomer, Dublin, Ireland; Geelong, Victoria, Australia; Madeira Island
Ports Liverpool, England; Melbourne, Victoria, Port Phillip, Victoria, Australia
Nationality Irish; Scottish; English
Ships Eastern City
People O'Shea, M P; O'Shea, Anne; Ladden, James; Johnstone, Captain D H
Keywords catholicism, shipping, emigration, Black Ball Line, health and sickness, disease, alcohol, food, passenger, colony, violence, sailor, medical staff, emigrant, death, women, animals, bad weather
Additional Information Please note: Some of the metadata for this document has been taken from the Museum Victoria catalogue.
Catalogue Link Museum Victoria Catalogue
Language English
Copyright Museum Victoria